Performing the national anthem on any major stage always opens you up to criticism, as was the case for Jewel following the Indianapolis 500.
The singer became the talk of the town following her country-inspired rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner” at the kickoff event.
A video of The Masked Singer winner’s performance was posted on the NBC IndyCar Series Twitter account, revealing her unique take on the patriotic song.
The multi-platinum singer, clad in an all-white outfit and donning a cowboy hat, played the melody on the guitar, switching up the pacing of the arrangement and adding her own flair. Her take on the anthem didn’t hit the right note with many fans and internet users, as one Navy musician reminded her that the “anthem isn’t a 90s pop ballad.”
The performance quickly stirred up controversy, with fans and Indy 500s going back and forth to discuss whether or not the version was appropriate.
One user hit back commenting that while they did not find it disrespectful, they would have preferred to hear her sing a more traditional version, to which a previous user responded, suggesting that he sticks by his point of view that the anthem should never be “stylized.”
Another thought it was a shame that the crowd tried to sing along but couldn’t because of all the changes.
Jewel butchered the national anthem at the Indy 500. People were trying to sing along but couldn’t because of the way she sang it. What a shame.
— Nancy Gould (@nagould) May 28, 2023
“I’m sorry, but the National Anthem should NEVER, be changed up like this. Good artist, bad choice!” one user wrote,
Still, others praised her for taking a shot and trying something new, even if it wasn’t to everyone’s liking, with one user stating, “Don’t see what all the commotion is..it is her style and fits her voice range tbh..not a tan [sic] but also not the worst …”
Another chimed in, noting, “She sang just like Jewel sings her songs,” with another agreeing that “singers have been putting their spin on the song for decades,” and a third adding that it takes “guts and talent to add a personal touch to an anthem.”
Naturally, someone disagreed with that sentiment, adding that there is no need to “improve” the anthem.
No, it takes narcissism to change the national anthem. I am not offended or outraged or anything like that but just sing the song the way it was written and the way we all know it and quit trying to “improve” it.
— Rob Johnson (@Nerdyredneckrob) May 29, 2023
It’s possible that Indy 500, Indianapolis Motor Speedway president J. Douglas Boles expected the performance would get people talking. When he announced Jewel as the singer for the national anthem, he noted that “Jewel’s rendition will be a memorable and moving experience for fans at the track and watching from home on NBC.”
Watch the clip above and decide for yourself!